2.15 A Family Visit

Jean, the precise quote from the diary upon Hayes’ arrival at Bandon is:  “Little Maxine, my cousin, with all the charming candor of childhood tells me I am lots uglier than when I was here last time…”  For other’s interested in the genealogy:  Daniel and Lydia (Banks) Perkins;  Thomas Jefferson and Eliza Jane (Houghmaster) Perkins; William Billy and Francis (Hambloch) Perkins; Ethyl (Perkins, whom Hayes describes as his favorite cousin) and Ed Oakes; Maxine Oakes.  Thank you Aunt Ruth.

Here is the map of segment 2.14 that wouldn’t load for me last time:

This is the map of Haye’s four month family visit; as usual, more travel than visit:

March 5,1913 – June 15, 1913

Traveling south by rail, Hayes comments,  “The southeast coast of the United States is the most unattractive I have seen in the country.”  Human destruction and sloth bear most of his critique:  lumbermen and turpentine distillers have wrecked the pinewoods and the residents show little industry – “tumble-down log cabins, slattern women in illfitting clothes and ragged children standing about.”  Uncharacteristically for Hayes, the natural sights fail to raise his spirits: “Even the trees look mournful, festooned as they are with Spanish moss, and one sees no more cheerful bird than a heron or buzzard.”

Water Hyacinth

“Florida is a little better” – the water hyacinth at Sanford on St John River are a nuisance to shipping but at least pretty, the trees are more flourishing, and the towns, Savvanah and Jacksonville, are prosperous.

On this trip to the US, Hayes reconnects with much of his family. His father’s brother Epaminondas, who ten years previously graciously helped place Hayes on the USGS expeditions to Alaska (volume 1, segment 20.6), is a “southern hothead” who quarreled irreparably with his children and retreated from Washington DC to a 120-acre homestead at Winter Garden, Florida with orange groves and a truck garden for northern markets.  Because his farm blocks development of the town, Epam “has recently overheard remarks from the up and coming real estate men concerning reactionaries who stand in the way of public advancement, and is much perturbed thereby.”  At 78, all this has become too much for Epam.  “He wants me to stay with him, promises me $10,000 if I will stay.”  An attractive eighteen-year-old daughter of Epam’s hired hand can be considered part of “the bait” as well – for “she is willing.”

Hayes never seriously considered Uncle Epam’s offer – then beg – then demand, that Hayes stay and manage the farm at Winter Garden.  In the first place, Hayes is twice the girl’s age; second, Epam has children to whom the inheritance rightly belongs; and third, “it has not the attraction of the lonely Australian bush, the lack of romance of the South Seas.”

So, after three weeks at Winter Park, Hayes crossed to Tampa Bay billeting on the steamer Brunswick headed for New Orleans with “a Swede, [and] two drunks (American)”.  The first night’s “holy show of it” was too much for Hayes and the Swede; after their bibulous cabin mates caroused out to disturb the rest of the ship, the sober pair remaining behind found and poured all the remaining booze down the drain and went back to bed.

Andrew Jackson Statue, New Orleans, LA

At New Orleans, Hayes coolly observed the fine sugar plantations, the great levees holding back the sea, the statue to Andrew Jackson, and the French-feel to the town.  “I like to see the town once; but not again.”  Not at least until these backward-looking people realize that the War of 1812 was 100 years ago and the Civil War ended nearly 50  years ago – and the North won.

Travelling immediately up to Houston to visit his mother and sisters (Jennie and Louise Pearl), Hayes writes:  “I cannot realize they are nearer me than any others I meet in the street.  My sisters have had a hard, uphill fight for an education.  Now that they have arrived, I fear it has slightly gone to their heads.”  Hayes sees his mother looking older than her sixty-three years.  “When women live a pioneer life as she has lived, they age more quickly than when sheltered.”

But enough about family matters, how much more interesting the city:  Houston,  splendidly located with neither the hurricanes of Galveston nor the floods of New Orleans, “cannot help but grow into a great metropolis.”

Hayes stayed three days with his mother and sisters in Houston.  “They are strangers to me, they know it and I know it.”

Passing through Morgan, Texas on April 13th, Hayes comments on the inhumanity of the prison labor farm where head-shaved men slowly plow or swing hoes followed by hulking guards with rifles slung across saddles ready to shoot any man who might break for the bush.  “Crime cannot be condoned, but what advantage is gained in further brutalizing these men, then turning them loose on the public?  The way of the transgressor is hard – if he be a poor man.”  Hayes sister Memrie still lives at Hico, Texas, Hayes’ birthplace, only thirty miles from Morgan.  He decides not to call at Hico:  “like these convicts my heart was embittered too, but it is a closed book, a turned page and we will let it stand as it is.  I hope never to see the village again.”

At Oklahoma City, Hayes’ sister May, her husband William Mobley and two children visited with Hayes at the train station.  That was enough; “it is impossible to believe they are kinsfolk.  Strangers seem more natural.”

“San Francisco always acts like a magnet for me.”  This time, the “brusque and cynical” city drew him by rail across the sagebrush country from Newton, Kansas, through cold, dry Colorado, and up the San Joaquin Valley.  He saw most of the land along this way as barren and wild but, “When man uses his intelligence for some other purpose than satiating his lusts, he is a useful animal.”  The occasional alfalfa field or perhaps a fruit orchard following an irrigation project show evidence of ‘man’s use’ to Hayes.

Steam Schooner Speedwell, San Francisco, CA

After only three days in San Francisco, Hayes caught the steam schooner Speedwell bound north to Bandon, Oregon to complete his visit to the family. “I have no particular desire to see the place, but it is a duty, not a pleasure.”  His world travels have spoiled US scenery to his experienced eye:  “We have been in sight of the coast all the way.  It is not inspiring as are the tropics, merely a dull darksome line with sometimes white cliffs or grim headlands.”  Perhaps he’s tired: “My long journey from Sydney is ended, and a new chapter begins.”  Perhaps family responsibilities weigh heavily:  “What lies here?  I am not enthused about it, but will see it through to its end.”

James Manley Perkins, Mary Lucretia (Covey) Perkins, Coquille, OR

James Manley Perkins, Mary Lucretia (Covey) Perkins, Coquille, OR

Within a week of his arrival in Bandon, Hayes attended the funeral his uncle Jim (James Manley Perkins, great-great grandfather to the author of this blog).  James Manley had not seen his brother Epaminandos for more than fifty years; Hayes was glad to have delivered news and photographs from Florida to Uncle Jim before he died but dreads writing Epam with the sad news.

After James Manley’s death, Hayes stayed on for a while at the dairy farm with his cousins (who must be Joe Donaldson and Minnie (Perkins) Donaldson, great-grandparents to this author).  The contrast between the relentless demands yielding stolid rewards on a dairy farm could not contrast more starkly with the uncertainty and adventure of Hayes’ wandering life.  He describes dairy work at some length:  “We are up at 5 A.M., milk 22 cows.  Then breakfast, an ample meal with all the real food one gets at such a place. … After breakfast we put the milk through a separator, hauled it to the river and put it in a steamer for the creamery in Coquille.  Skimmed milk is given to the calves and pigs.  The fowls are fed, the horses slicked down and made ready for farm work.  There are a thousand things to do on a farm, and when these are done we take the cows in hand again.  There are three meals that are incredible to a city dweller.  But the work lasts until eight P.M. or later, when one is tired and ready for bed.  In the morning one gets up and does it all over again.”

After reading many  examples Hayes’ capacity for long days of hard work across Africa, Australia, New Guinea, and on ships sailing every sea, one suspects he disdains the tedious repetition more than the exertion.  “To me the world would be a dull place without its adventurers…?”

After a month on the farm at Bandon, news arrives that now Uncle Epam has died of nephritis in Florida.  These two deaths of his close uncles finish Hayes’ family visit.  Acting messenger-boy of death suits him even less than farming.  So with no inkling what will be next, Hayes writes “Well, I have finished this job, and now for something else.”  First he’ll need a stake – one eats well at the family farm but, as usual, Hayes’ purse is flat.

4 Responses to 2.15 A Family Visit

  1. Tim Bell says:

    Hi John

    Thanks again for posting these updates. Always interesting … I look forward to them. These adventures are amazing to me.

    Hayes was ready to move on at almost any time, even if he had only a month or two mapped out (I wouldn’t go as far as saying planned…) in advance, and a few dollars in his pocket. Such an amazing contrast with our own lives!


    Tim Bell

    • johnmmartin says:

      Thanks Tim. They are amazing to me too. I expect his wandering ways were in even more stark contrast with folks of his own time.

  2. Noel Martin says:

    In 1913 the Civil war would have been over for 50 years not 100 so I’m guessing typo?

    • johnmmartin says:

      Yeah, sort of a typo. Now that you point it out I can read the passage without confusion. “These people hardly know the Civil war is over yet. All about the city are monuments to generals of that war, and especially of Andrew Jackson, victor at the famous battle near the city 100 years ago.” Then later “Andrew Jackson fought the Battle of New Orleans yesterday, the Civil War is still going on.”

      Now that you point it out, I see that he was referring to two separate wars: the Civil War and the War of 1812, in which Jackson was the hero.

      Suppose I might have been able to read it properly if I’d paused to think about the dates a little.

      Thanks. I’ll go fix it.

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